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Technology May Eliminate Repeat Breast Cancer Surgery

March 17, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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A clinical trial at the Moores University of California San Diego Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, will evaluate a new surgical device which may spare healthy breast tissue during lumpectomies.  Besides seeking the most immediate  benefit to the patient, surgeons are hoping the device will make only one operation per patient necessary and will allow, instead, for more radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Already approved by the FDA, the low temperature device utilizes radiofrequency energy and makes for a cleaner, more complete excision of the tumor itself. The pathologist’s sample, then, sustains less heat damage, and the remaining breast tissue suffers less injury and distortion.

“Nationally, close to 50 percent of malignant breast lump excisions result in positive margin status, requiring additional procedures,” according to a press release from the  University of California San Diego Medical Center. “The traditional method of tissue evaluation relies upon microscopic examination; however, electrosurgical techniques may damage tissue samples within 1-2 mm of the margin. Positive margin rates at Moores UCSD Cancer Center are found in fewer than 20 percent of cases.”

Sarah Blair, MD, associate clinical professor of surgery at the UCSD School of Medicine, and her colleagues conducted a survey of of US practices for maintaining lumpectomy surgical margins and published the results in the November 2009 issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. They asked that further treatment studies be done  to minimize invasive procedures.

The pending results of the clinical trial could be welcome news for the 100,000 women each year who have lumps removed from their breasts. Even more welcome could be the prevention of the disease itself, which is still the leading cause of cancer deaths among Hispanic women. In African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, Caucasian and American Indian/Alaska Native women, it is the second most common cause of cancer deaths.

Related seminar: Breast & Women’s Imaging Seminar

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